5 Ways to Transfer Your Judo Techniques to Wrestling

By Elizabeth Dosado

In the combat world, we often see technique translating from one sport to another. One of the most translatable combat cross-overs, is judo to wrestling. When I started wrestling, I had difficulty with my technique as judo was my first sport. created a strange style of wrestling for me at first, as I didn’t know how to combine the two. However, I started seeing a progression in both sports once I learned how to marry both styles. Modifying the moves from judo to wrestling can be a bit tricky, but doing so can really improve your skill set. Applying judo concepts to wrestling throws will help to create a better understanding of throws overall. This article is a compilation of the judo throws I have been able to successfully incorporate into my wrestling.  

The physics of judo throws vs. wrestling throws

In both wrestling and judo, the concept of action-reaction is essential. The main difference between judo and wrestling is the concept of kuzushi (off-balance) and posture. The creation of this off-balance is very different between the two sports. Due to the judogi (robe-like uniform judoka wear), off-balance is generated easier due to the ability to grip your opponent’s gi. Also, the posture used when doing a judo throw is very straight up. However in wrestling, the tie ups must be modified in order to generate enough momentum for a judo throw.  stance also changes the way a judo throw is performed in order to be effective.

Making the Adjustments

Adjustments of judo throws to wrestling are primarily based on compensating for the lack of a gi. The footwork for the throws remains the same, with the main changes occuring in the grips/tie-ups. There will also be a difference in the way a reaction is generated, since  a wrestler moves differently in response to being thrown from that of a judoka.

Ogoshi

An Ogoshi throw is made possible by getting your hips through and sending your opponent flying to to their back. A judoka will use the gi as ameans to grip and pull their opponent close enough to throw. However, the best position when you’re translating this to wrestling will be in an over/under position. Your arms must be locked down tightly by trapping your opponent's arm to your rib cage with your elbow, and gripping their back with your other hand. In order to replicate this movement, you must practice pulling your opponent towards your body and sending your hips through just like in judo.

 

Ippon seonage

An ippon seonage throw is generally done from a standard gi grip. Once the off balance is created, the thrower will place their dominant arm in a position in which it looks like they’re “making a muscle” and will place it underneath and snug into their partner’s armpit. At this point, the partner is loaded onto the back and thrown. In wrestling, this is often done from an over/under position. The off balance can be easily created through pulling the overhook, and getting your partner on their toes.

 

Harai-goshi

Harai-goshi can be done with an around the back grip or an around the head grip. With these grips, the judogi provides little difference. This throw is similar to that of a “head and arm” in wrestling. However, there is a stark difference in the execution of the throw. Rather than simply throwing your hip through, you also reap with you leg. This reap is aimed towards the opponent’s outer thigh, and is the thigh on the same side as your dominant side (you will reap with your dominant leg). This throw is especially brutal, since it captures the opponent’s leg to further ensure the throw.

 

Footsweeps

Footsweeps are a bit more tricky to set up in wrestling. If done properly, it will make your opponent afraid of even having their feet around you. A common set up for footsweeps in wrestling is done with an over/under grip. The opponent is moved in a circle through pushing/pulling with the over/under and the foot closest is swept. Footsweeps can also be done in wrestling with a two-on-one grip, in which the two-on-one is thrown and the closest foot is swept.

 
Uchi Mata.gif

Uchi Mata

Uchi mata is similar to harai-goshi in that it is also a reap. In judo, uchi mata is generally performed from an over the back grip on the gi. In wrestling, uchi mata is super effective from an under-hook. It is essential that when doing an uchi mata in wrestling that one throws up the under-hook as they reap towards the inner thigh and throw.

Ultimately, it is clear that there are many benefits to including judo in one’s wrestling game. These are the moves that can score a critical 4 or 5 pointer, which could turn around the outcome of a match. Additionally, learning these moves will add more variety to one’s arsenal. Sometimes, keeping an open mind in your training journey can make all the difference.


Elizabeth Dosado is from Ruther Glen, Virginia. She is 16, and going into her junior year in high school. She has been practicing judo for three years, and is currently a blue belt. She just completed her third wrestling season. Elizabeth teaches beginner wrestlers in local high schools in an effort to grow the sport for girls in her area.

Elizabeth was fourth in the region during the school season, and made it to Virginia State as the only girl in the 4A division. She is a three time VAWA Girls Folkstyle champion, a two time VAWA Girls Freestyle champion, and has competed nationally representing the Virginia National Team. If she isn't working out or doing combat sports, Elizabeth can be found fiddling with a guitar, singing to herself, or trying her hand at writing. She has done multiple mission trips through her church, and participates in the Army JROTC through her school. 

How to Improve the Speed of Your Takedown

Our wrestling technique will take us far when we are working expanding our arsenal. But what about when we need to simplify our steps and create the most speed and efficiency with our movements? Surprisingly enough, in order to go fast, it means you need to start slow. By simplifying where your hands and feet need to go, you are providing yourself to be in position to quickly execute. 

Similar to the blog on breaking down technique, we break this down into its relative parts. All of your problem areas will be helped by slowing down and recognizing the highlighted areas. You should begin with just one of these areas and repeat it over and over. Only once an area begins to feel natural do you move on to the next. When you are able to put the steps together with minimal corrections, begin completing your takedown for timing and for speed.

Hands inside

This may seem like a simple concept, but only works when we discipline ourselves to do it before each shot. We can get to the legs faster when our hands are on the biceps. This is because I am not being blocked by a tie up. I guarantee that most of us are more focused on pulling the head, grabbing the hands, or getting a 2-on-1 (or a Russian tie for the half of the U.S. that uses that name). Sometimes we are trying to do all of these at once! But what happens when we grab our opponents? They grab back! When we hang, it makes it much easier for our opponent to telegraph our movements.

I didn't realize how focused I was on clinging to my opponent until my Japanese coach pointed it out. She directed me over and over again to get my hands inside. In order to make it stick, I practiced only putting my hands inside for the first part of my shot drills. The hand fight should be for insight position, and not to simply grab and pull. Moving your opponent is a means to distract in order to get your power position. 

Back foot first

Once our hand position is inside, how do we eliminate the space between ourselves and our opponents? Move your feet. With a staggered stance, moving our front foot first creates too much space between my feet. If my first step is with the wrong foot, I need to take extra steps which wastes precious seconds and causes a missed opportunity to shoot. Stepping with the front first first also means the weight is in that foot, and it is difficult if not nearly impossible to take a proper penetration step. Move that back foot first! I am actually putting my weight into my toes in order to take a big lunge step with my front foot towards my opponent. This is a temporary position. As soon as the back foot moves, I must take an immediate penetration step. I am simply reminding my body to shift the weight to my back foot so I can explode forward. 

 

 

Penetration step

The timing and body position in this step are made to look simple for a reason. When I teach this technique, it is rare that I see an athlete execute this step properly the first time. They try to pull their opponent over top of them, step too far away, take more than one step, head is too low on the body, or hands are too low on the legs. 

Since my weight is on the toe of my back foot, I can take a huge penetration step forward. My foot should come in line with my opponent's feet. Drill these movements back and forth how it is shown in the clip. This builds up leg strength and muscle memory. Every shot will not be perfect, and it's important to train your body how to take a step backwards and remain in your stance. This becomes valuable for when you need to change plans and get out of your takedown attempt. My head, chest, and arms need to be tight against my opponent. Ear lands on the hip, and there is no space between their legs and my chest. Arms should land high on the thighs and not behind the knees. The lower we are on the legs, the easier it is for our opponent to defend. 

Putting it together

We are often taught as wrestlers that we need to execute everything while in the most complicated and hardest of circumstances. For example, we should do all our take downs while someone is pounding on our head. This is like telling a sprinter they should only ever train facing into the wind and never without this added variable. Sprinting faster than everyone else is a difficult variable enough. Even though it certainly has it's place in training, it's not necessary every time. It is certainly not conducive to learning. We need to offer our bodies and our minds variation so we can learn and create muscle memory. So bear with me when I request that you continue to practice the entirety of the movement with minimal variables.

When you put the pieces together, you must work on moving your feet quickly, keeping the pressure into your opponent, and following through to the mat. I don't finish my takedown by lifting my partner because I am training my reactions to move fast and hard immediately after my hands leave her biceps.  Add a wrinkle when these movements become comfortable. Have your partner start with a change of reaction, or begin in a compromised position where you are tied up.

 I'll remind you what I said in step one about why we want inside position: We can get to the legs faster when our hands are on the biceps. After plenty of practice, the way you push and pull your opponent will become more fluid and be more conducive towards taking a shot. However, do not add this in until your natural reactions start bringing your hands inside to the biceps. I have always seen (and know from personal experience) that an athlete who is too afraid to shoot is only afraid because they are having trouble getting their body in the right position to be offensive. They can sense the danger and are not equipped with the right tools to attempt offensive technique. Learn how to work on leg strength in order to remain in your stance and take a penetration shot properly. Train your hands to over come the need to pull and cling onto too many options at once. This will give you confidence in your ability to execute offense by always being in the right place at the right time. 

How to Break Down Wrestling Technique

We all want to learn technique and do it fast. I often have to tell athletes to slow it down so I can help them work on very specific areas. When you are challenged by technique, you need to break it up into its equal parts. Breaking down technique requires a major slow down and simplification of an area. 

Any technique you attempt will typically have three parts: the approach, the transition, and the finish. All of your problem areas will be helped by slowing down, and recognizing the three areas. You begin with just one of these areas and repeat it over and over. Why break up the move when we are supposed to explode through the entire move in competition? When there are problem areas in technique, its usually due to a few small mistakes that make it nearly impossible to finish to a score. We fail to see those mistakes when we rush through thinking the most important part is the finish. We have to let go of the desire to do technique fast in order to find the mistakes and to create the muscle memory. 

The approach

To demonstrate the approach, I am using the high crotch as an example. I begin by creating the most simple motion in order to get to the legs by placing my hands on the biceps. If your approach includes working on a more complicated set up, use the set up you have been drilling.

I keep my head position level with my opponent by bending my knees and not bending at the waist. I am working on staying low so I do not waste energy or be telling in my movements. This would give my opponent time to react. For the high crotch, our penetration to the leg is very important. Hands start inside so that I can quickly break through my opponent's defenses. I freeze my position once I have reached the transitional part of the move. If my driving leg (left leg) was too far behind my body, I would need to correct that on the next repetition. If my hands did not land in an accurate position, that would also need correction in the next repetition. If you notice, I only take two steps: penetration step and left leg steps in position for transition.

This should be repeated over and over before you decide to move on to the next section. The idea is to create muscle memory through repetition. We can only create that memory when we accurately repeat the same motion. If our movements are not accurate, it becomes more difficult to re-correct later. 

The transition

The middle part, or transition, of a move will look different for each technique whether its offense, defense, on top or on bottom. Think of this section as when you typically need to shift your body or create body motion. This will change your opponents position so scoring is possible. Back to the high crotch example, we can see that the transition is when I must change my position from kneeling, to squatting and driving. I need to put my opponent into the right position so I can complete the technique to a score. 

I should be looking for my opponent to be forced into stepping, and for it to be difficult to defend. This is where your partner can challenge you by slightly changing their body position to double check that every part of your body is engaged. This is often the most overlooked part of technique. We get excited about beginning and ending a move, but surprise ourselves when our opponent reacts. If we haven't practiced and perfected the transition of technique enough, it will be very difficult to get to the finish. The transition will be the biggest challenge if you are not prepared to explode out of your approach. 

The finish

How you finish or execute your technique depends on how you move your opponent to score. Are you lifting, driving, pushing, or pulling? In my example, I need to lift and drive my opponent to create my takedown score. Driving refers to a pushing motion where my upper body may stay still, but my feet create motion to move my opponent to my desired direction. My feet need to be under my hips to have the power I need to lift. My eyes need to look the direction I am driving so we both fall where I would like us to. I repeat only this motion with corrections each time. If my chest is too far away, my ear not attached to the hip, or my eyes not looking the right direction, I make those corrections on each repetition. Sometimes you remember to do one part, but forget another. Then you forget to add in driving feet but remembered to look the right direction. This is all a process as it takes many, many repetitions to have the muscle memory that allows you to execute all these elements without needing to think or do it slowly. 

There is no reason to speed up your technique, even after one session of breaking down. You will have plenty of opportunities during practice to quickly do your technique and train your speed. These kinds of sessions are meant to slow and methodical. Once you begin recognizing that your corrections are few and far between, you can start to put two parts together. Try out the approach and transition together. Did it create problems and did you forget steps? Don't go on to the finish until you have isolated working on approach and transition and those feel more natural. It's okay if you only work on this for an entire session. You can read up on how you should work with a coach and how to record technique pointers in your journal when working on breaking down technique here. Don't forget to be gentle and patient with yourself, it's also about enjoying the process of learning and mastering! 

 

Beginner Wrestlers: Don't Get Stuck on the Technique

As a beginner wrestler, how do you become effective in competition without obsessing over learning every technique? When we focus solely on the need to perfect technique, it can often prevent you from seeing the big picture. What is sport, but accepting the challenge from another competitor to compete to your best abilities? By simplifying the idea of sport, we can focus on being a fierce competitor, and focus on where to position yourself for the best advantage. I've seen many great wrestlers who learned how to be tough competitors without high level technique. In good time, the technique will come with work and repetition. 

Technique is overwhelming

If you feel like what you are learning at wrestling practice is overwhelming and there is too much information, choose one or two techniques to focus on. When technique, live, and conditioning are moving quickly at practice, it may not provide enough time to commit a something new to memory. Repetition is key to muscle memory, so get extra help from a coach and grab a partner to keep practicing the new technique. Your body and your subconscious will pick up on the technique and positioning long before your active consciousness will. So be patient and let your body pick commit it to memory for good. 

Create your athletic base

Wrestling takes muscle endurance and agility. By incorporating stamina and movement, you will give yourself an advantage on the competition mat. This is important when you may not have as much technical experience as your opponent. Wrestling will always be a game of tiny advantages, so find different ways to get an advantage while you are still learning technique. 

Create better body positioning, not perfect technique 

When we break down the concept of technique, its important to remember that the ultimate goal is to create enough movement and leverage to get a takedown or a pin. Using this as a guide, let the technique you are learning be a reminder that you must do what it takes to secure points for a win. By focusing so much on technique, we sometimes forget that the point is to have fun and score a takedown, whatever that may look like. I spent years focusing on making my technique was perfect, and then had to re-train myself to focus on positioning and stance. When you watch top level wrestlers, you rarely see flashy moves. They use basics and focus on positioning to create the best advantages for themselves. 

Embrace being a beginner 

Remember, its okay to look like a beginner. Enjoy the journey. It's okay that you don't know the language, the superstars, or every every minor detail on the rules of the sport. Be excited about learning something new, and that will propel you towards years of joy in an amazing sport. Don't let the fear and insecurity of looking like a beginner drive you away from something you enjoy doing. 

Your Guide to Warming-Up and Cooling-Down

Check out the video above to see National Team, World Team, and Olympic Team members doing their warm-ups and cool-downs! 

The warm up before competition is important and critical to have before you compete. As you go through the normal routine that is typically repeated from practice, we tend to forget that it doen't end there. For those athletes who have multiple rounds, or have to wait long periods of time after their warm up before their competition begins, it becomes even more crucial to make sure we are paying attention to our bodies, and what it needs in order to compete.

The Re-Warm Up

The re-warm up can come in different forms for different athletes and at all varying levels of sport. I always say simple is best. There have been studies that show that an athlete is better able to compete and react best when their heart rate is already a bit elevated before they begin. And that means more than just the intense beat of your heart from nerves. 

This can be achieved in the re-warm up with short twitch, dynamic movements in-between walking, pacing, or sitting. If you watch in the video, the ladies are in tune with their heart rate and how they want to feel before they walk out on the mat. They watch the competition happening in front of them, and give their bodies a moment to shake out or include dynamic movements. That helps remind your mind and body that it will be ready to perform extremely athletic feats.

The re-warm up that comes later in the day after you have already competed may need to contain a few more short bursts of movement that you did earlier in the morning. Your mind and body fatiguing as the competition day moves forward is going to be a factor of being a competitor, and everyone is in the same boat. It is much more important to be aware of the fatigue, rather than shy away or pretend it doesn't exist. In the video, you can see the ladies using the space available to add in short sprinting bursts. They always include walking in-between, because these sprints are not to improve our conditioning like it would in practice. This technique is used to wake up the body and mind, and get the blood coursing through the whole body. 

The Cool-Down

Your cool down after a match, event, or game is extremely important. Even if you don't have a series of competitions like other sports may have, it is still crucial. Not only is it a moment to bring your mind to a focused state, but it also critical for the functionality of your body to help bring your heart rate down after such an extreme adrenaline high. 

The cool down should contain similar movement and motions to your warm up, especially the parts of your warm up that allow you to become warm before you do dynamic work. It should include a lot of skipping, light jogging, arm circles, even tumbling if appropriate. 

Cooling down is often overlooked because it doesn't seem like the cool thing to do. It is hard to be the one athlete who is doing something that looks different from your teammates or from other athletes. But in reality, by ignoring the importance of a cool down, you are actually doing a disservice to your body and the longevity it will have in sport. Get in tune with your mind and body, this is also important as we have so many emotions and thoughts running through our heads during a competition. Can you take a moment without talking to coaches, parents, teammates and get in tune with what's going on inside? There are emotions and thoughts we are going to want to ignore, or have someone else tell us something that will make it go away. Sometimes, sitting with your own demons is the only way to move forward so you can refocus. Give yourself that time during your cool down to refocus your thoughts so you are ready for what comes next. 

The Competition Day Breakdown:

Follow coach, team, or personal guidelines for your pre-competition warm up. In the video, I show a very small snippet of some of the dynamic warm ups available in wrestling, as well as the importance of prepping your body with something like a foam roller. If you ever want to see a full morning warm-up and what it looks like for a wrestler, let me know in the comments! 

Typically, right after your first warm-up, many athletes will have the opportunity to rehydrate and get in some nutrition. If you want an idea of snacks to bring to your competition, check out that blog here.  

If you have a longer break in competition from your initial warm-up, it will be crucial to get in a quick re-warm up. This will never be as in-depth as your initial warm-up, unless you have many, many hours in between competitions. Typically, dynamic movements along with walking in-between will help raise your heart rate so you are ready to compete. 

As soon as you are done with your match, game, or first part of a competition, move directly into a cool down.

If you are preparing to compete again and your cool down is complete, rehydrate and get in nutrition. Sure, this may seem redundant, but this is actually called consistency. It's like providing your mind and body with a safe space, it always knows the next steps and what it needs to do. Eliminating the extra distractions and having a rhythm or routine for your competition day gets more important the more consistent you are working on becoming. 

If you are someone who uses a re-warm up and cool down, kudos! Leave me a comment about how your competition day looks! 

 

Katherine